To represent the meaning of a word, most models use external language resources, such as text corpora, to derive the distributional properties of word usage. In this study, we propose that internal language models, that are more closely aligned to the mental representations of words, can be used to derive new theoretical questions regarding the structure of the mental lexicon. A comparison with ... [Show full abstract] internal models also puts into perspective a number of assumptions underlying recently proposed distributional text-based models could provide important insights into cognitive science, including linguistics and artificial intelligence. We focus on word-embedding models which have been proposed to learn aspects of word meaning in a manner similar to humans and contrast them with internal language models derived from a new extensive data set of word associations. An evaluation using relatedness judgments shows that internal language models consistently outperform current state-of-the art text-based external language models. This suggests alternative approaches to represent word meaning using properties that aren't encoded in text.